Issues and Challenges in Project Implementation

Day 1 - Monday 7 September

The workshop was opened jointly by Mrs. Coumba Fall, Executive Director, WARF, Mr. Kekoi Kuyateh, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Projects and Programmes), Ministry of Finance, Mr. S. Bai Senghor, Director, Micro-Finance Department (Central Bank of the Gambia), Mr. Sulayman Gaye, Economist (Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs), Mr. Alasan Bah, Project Coordinator Rural Finance Project, and Mr. Perin Saint Ange, PA/IFAD.

In the first session, Martin Raine provided an overview of the workshop agenda and the major subject areas:

- Negotiating the Loan Agreement
- Starting-up the Project
- Project Implementation
- Closing the Project and the Loan.

He introduced the two guiding principles and objectives of the workshop programme:

- increase project staff’s understanding of their roles and responsibilities in project implementation and
- maximize project impact to benefit the rural poor.

In order to not get overburdened, it is crucial to organize beforehand for implementation and financial management. The session also recalled the responsibilities of the different actors - Government, project, and IFAD - during project implementation, in light of the overall objective to achieve the best results. In striving for maximum effectiveness and impact, all actors should always be guided by the needs of the beneficiaries.

Luisa Migliaccio (FC) presented an overview of the issues, processes and materials associated with Loan Negotiations. An introduction into the most critical provisions of the loan agreement and its impact on implementation helped participants familiarize with the legal framework of the loan. Difficulties in the mobilization of counterpart funds by central and local governments in a timely manner were highlighted by several participants. This proves once again to be an issue of concern for the effective implementation of project activities in the region. It was also noted that Borrowers’ delegations are not always sufficiently familiar with the content of Appraisal Reports and Loan Agreements before loan negotiations. Pre-negotiation of the loan agreement is a possible solution to the problem.

The third and fourth crucial stages in implementation, the letter to the borrower and start-up, were introduced by Perin Saint Ange. Using examples from his long experience, he vividly illustrated how during this phase all appraisal, negotiation and legal documents of the loan are translated into action, and the project’s responsibilities in implementation are established. Participants were familiarized with the main contents of the letter to the borrower and how it constitutes an operational guideline for withdrawal of loan funds, procurement, and financial and audit reporting.

Guest speaker Alasan Bah and other participants actively contributed by sharing experiences and discussing issues frequently encountered in their daily work.

By Karen Juergens